I want to put it all on the table. I really like Blitzen Trapper. I really like their albums, and I really like their live performances. So it shouldn't be surprising when I tell you that I really like their newest album, "American Goldwing." But I'm also supposed to be thinking critically about music, right? I mean, right. This is a review. So let me be clear: "American Goldwing" is not Blitzen Trapper's best album. Not even close. It may not even be top three.
Here's a review of Blitzen Trapper's "American Goldwing" written by Dylan Hume. Band photo by Tyler Kohlhoff.
Does that mean I don't like it? No. Certainly not. But for a band that has put out four records in five years on a big indie label, their musical evolution seems to be, and I want to be careful about how I use this word here, stagnating.
The album starts strong, and is spotty throughout. Some of the uptempo rockers give you that tingling feeling, like the one you got when you heard "Destroyer of the Void" for the first time. Some of the slower, folkier tunes are pleasantly reminiscent of "Furr." In fact, there wasn't really a moment on the record when I wasn't reminded of one of their old records, which, given how good their older records are, isn't really a condemnation of the band. But it does speak to some nebulous flaw, some missing creative enzyme. I wanted something a little bit (just a little bit) new.
Blitzen Trapper's seemingly effortless blend of several distinct tropes from country, rock and folk music suggest that the band is comprised of individuals who are careful listeners and dedicated fans of those artists who first recognized the potential that lay within blurring the lines of genre. I hate to say "You know who I'm talking about," but if you don't know who I'm talking about, you probably shouldn't be listening to Blitzen Trapper in the first place. It is great music if you like other, older great music.
Luckily for me, I love great music, and Blitzen Trapper makes great music. The album is full of great songwriting, period. Lyrically, it's as good as it's ever been, maybe even better than "Furr," which I regard as a high point of lyricism for the entirety of 2008, and not just for Blitzen Trapper.
The album is also full of great musicianship and production. Everything sounds crisp, the band sounds tight. The cuts sound live, more or less, with the exception of a few moments of studio indulgence by the band. These guys are purists. They wouldn't be making these kinds of records if they weren't, and I respect them for it.
But I can't forgive the album for its inconsistencies. These guys are really comfortable making this kind of music. And they've made a lot of it in recent years, and I can't ever see myself telling them to stop. I just happen to think artists should be more comfortable with doing something different. I know I'm probably in the minority here. I'm going to go listen to the album again, all the while hoping that I'm wrong. - DH
American Goldwing Tracks:
Might Find It Cheap Fletcher Love the Way You Walk Away Your Crying Eyes My Home Town Girl In a Coat American Goldwing Astronaut Taking It Easy Too Long Street Fighting Sun Stranger In a Strange Land
Friday, September 9, 2011 Crystal Ballroom, Portland OR Music Fest North West
Monday, September 12, 2011 Music Millennium, Portland OR in-store @ 8PM!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 Easy Street (Queen Anne), Seattle WA in-store 7PM!!
Friday, October 7, 2011 Mystic Theater, Petaluma CA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Saturday, October 8, 2011 Soho Restaurant & Music Club, Santa Barbara CA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Sunday, October 9, 2011 Belly Up, Solana Beach CA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Monday, October 10, 2011 Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix AZ w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 Sol Santa Fe, Santa Fe NM w/Smoke Fairies & Dawes
Thursday, October 13, 2011 Club Dada, Dallas TX w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Friday, October 14, 2011 UTOPIAfest, Utopia TX
Saturday, October 15, 2011 Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge LA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Sunday, October 16, 2011 Bottle Tree, Birmingham AL w/ Smoke Fairies
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Mercy Lounge, Nashville TN w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Thursday, October 20, 2011 Headliner's Music Hall, Louisville KY w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Friday, October 21, 2011 Orange Peel, Asheville NC w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Saturday, October 22, 2011 Cats Cradle, Carrboro NC w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Monday, October 24, 2011 Black Cat, Washington DC w/ Smoke Fairies & Dawes
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 Webster Hall, New York City NY w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Thursday, October 27, 2011 Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia PA w/ Dawes & Smoke Fairies
Friday, October 28, 2011 Royale (MA), Boston MA w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Saturday, October 29, 2011 Mohawk Place, Buffalo NY w/ The Belle Brigade All Ages!
Sunday, October 30, 2011 Opera House (ON), Toronto Ontario w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland OH w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 Calvin College Fine Arts Center, Grand Rapids MI w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Thursday, November 3, 2011 Metro, Chicago IL w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Thursday, November 3, 2011 Reckless Records (Broadway), Chicago IL In-Store! @ 6PM
Friday, November 4, 2011 First Avenue, Minneapolis MN w/ Dawes
Saturday, November 5, 2011 Turner Hall, Milwaukee WI w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Monday, November 7, 2011 Fox Theater (CO), Boulder CO w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Thursday, November 10, 2011 Rickshaw Theater (BC), Vancouver Canada w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Friday, November 11, 2011 Neptune Theatre, Seattle WA w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Sunday, November 13, 2011 McDonald Theatre, Eugene OR w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 Fillmore, The (SF), San Francisco CA w/ Dawes & Belle Brigade
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